Who Killed Philip

Authors Avatar

In 336BC, Philip II of Macedonia was assassinated, and his son, Alexander, assumed the throne.


  • Philip’s assassination, including where it took place, who was present, and the possible motivation of his killer
  • The reasons for debate over the involvement of Olympias and/or Alexander

As the new king, what leadership qualities did Alexander show as he secured his hold on Macedonia and Greece during the first two years of his reign?

Philip II of Macedon was King from 359BC until his assassination in 336BC. He was father of  III,  III and possibly , the founder of the . Olympias was the mother of his two children Alexander the Great and Cleopatra but at the time of the assassination King Philip was having relations with Cleopatra, daughter of Hippostratus and niece of general . After his assassination Philip’s son Alexander took up the throne and control of the Macedonian army, showing his greatness as a leader.  

The assassination of Philip happened in October of 336 BC, at , the ancient capital of the kingdom of Macedon. The court had gathered there for the celebration of the marriage between  and Philip's daughter . It was a lavish event and elaborate games had been arranged. Philip entered the theatre escorted by his son Alexander ad son-in-law, Alexander. The King’s bodyguards were at a distance so the King was unprotected and as he walked in a man by the name of Pausanias rushed up to Philip and stabbed him in the chest. The assassin immediately tried to escape and reach his associates who were waiting for him with horses at the entrance of Aegae. He was pursued by three of Philip's bodyguards and died by their hands. The motivation of Philip’s killer has been modified and changed slightly by different historians beliefs and understandings but In the sixteenth book of Diodorus' history, Pausanias had been a lover of Philip, but became jealous when Philip turned his attention to a younger man, also called Pausanias. His taunting of the new lover caused the youth to throw away his life, which turned his friend, Attalus, against Pausanias. Attalus took his revenge by inviting Pausanias to dinner, getting him drunk, then subjecting him to sexual assault. When Pausanias complained to Philip the King felt unable to chastise Attalus, as he was about to send him to Asia with Parmenion, to establish a bridgehead for his planned invasion. He had also married Attalus's niece, or daughter, . Rather than offend Attalus, Phillip attempted to mollify Pausanius by elevating him within the Bodyguard. Pausanias' desire for revenge seems to have turned towards the man who had failed to avenge his damaged honour; so he planned to kill Philip, and some time after the alleged rape, while Attalus was already in Asia fighting the Persians, put his plan in action. Revenge was therefore the main motivator of the assassination.  

Join now!

There has also been a considerable ammount of debate however over the involvement of Olympias and/ or Alexander in the assassination of King Philip and it has been questioned if they put Pausanias up to it. This is because the death of Philip happened at such an opportune time for Alexander and Olympias. There is strong evidence against Alexander as he was on bad terms with his father Philip, he was the chief beneficiary and he was an accompany of his father into the theatre. Also the bodyguards who killed Pausanias, including Perdiccas and Leonnutus were friends of Alexander. The ...

This is a preview of the whole essay